Paul Nicholls warns Zarkandar has not been trained with Saturday's Betfair Hurdle as his highest priority - but he could still win the big prize.
The Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next month is the five-year-old's main aim this season and he is due to reappear at Newbury this weekend..
With Ruby Walsh suspended, Daryl Jacob will be aboard the hot favourite as he was when winning the JCB Triumph Hurdle last season.
"Zarkandar could well go and win and looks well-handicapped but whatever happens, win, lose or draw, there will be a lot to come and he has been trained with the Champion Hurdle in mind," said Nicholls.
"He's a hell of a horse to know if he has improved. At home he's workmanlike but on the track he's different. He's been working OK but is obviously better on the track.
"He's had a racecourse gallop and has done plenty but I'm in the dark as much as anyone. He could win and be a good thing, unless he needs the run more than we thought, but he's done enough work. Saturday will tell us a lot more."